Researcher meets with U.S. Secretary of Education

Tue, 09/17/2013

Contact

Karen Henry
Life Span Institute
785-864-0756

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas Associate Research Professor Amy McCart shared her vision of inclusive education and how it might impact national policy with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and his senior staff. She was one of only three education experts invited to Washington to discuss how the administration could shape federal policy to encourage schools to prepare all students for college and careers — including those students with disabilities.

McCart is the director of technical assistance for the SWIFT Center (Schoolwide Integrated Framework for Transformation), an ambitious national K-8 school reform initiative funded by the largest grant ($24.5 million) in KU history from the U.S. Department of Education Special Education Programs.

Based on years of KU research in schools around the country led by McCart and Professor of Special Education Wayne Sailor, who directs SWIFT, the flexible use of funding, resources and supports for all children is key to the implementation.

According to McCart, SWIFT is a fundamental departure from the current system that has resulted in bureaucratic “silos” of funding that restrict access to children who could benefit from them: those with and without disabilities as well as non-English speakers.

“SWIFT was front and center in our discussion,” McCart said. “Their message to me was clear — that SWIFT is going to show us how to do this.”

McCart was called on to comment on something called the College and Career Ready Standards, part of the Obama administration’s goals for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently the No Child Left Behind Act) that, among other things, mandates equal access to education.

McCart said that educators are often skeptical of teaching students with extensive needs under the proposed standards and that they lack the resources and support to do so.

SWIFT research suggests that this can be done, though, said McCart. First, by leveraging all resources for all children through a multi-tiered system of support underpinned by positive behavioral support and interventions along with collaborative teaching.

“By linking individual learning outcomes to the standards, we can eliminate the need for the bureaucratic aspects of the current process,” she said.

McCart told the top education policy makers that they should begin to align the funding of general and special education toward a fully integrated national education system.

“When we create a climate where all students belong, where educators have support and resources and families are true partners, the differences are profound,” said McCart. “In the United States, equity in education means teaching every single student, however they come.”



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Poet offers insights to Jayhawk experience through wordplay "Welcome to KU. Where questions rest, in stacks of answers from the past. …" Listen to Topher Enneking, a spoken word poet and former KU football player, as he weaves the experience of KU and its traditions through this storytelling and wordplay performance. Learn more about KU traditions at http://www.ku.edu/about/traditions/. Welcome to KU. Where questions rest in stacks of answers from the past. Where dreams crawl out of bed And learn to walk Uphill both ways. Where freshmen stand on stilts And hang from the rafters, While the wheat waves In a fieldhouse Where the Phog rolls in Helping us to see Through the past into the future. Haunting hosts giving handouts in a heritage Too heavy to grasp til you add to it. So it may be born anew, Allowing our boots to stand in the ash of oppression’s hate But shine bright as the sun While war cries of warriors past Ring in our ears long after their battles are won. Memorials telling time, “you don’t have to stand still.” Because the top of the world Is just up that Hill. Where our natural history is an awe-struck echo Of world’s fair and equal Past, present and future, prelude and sequel. Where our flags fly above planes. Where we build in chalks that can’t be erased. Stone edifices made to last So you would walk Past their doors, down their halls And let your voice fill their room. Because only in empty silence can destruction loom. So stand tall. Wrap your arms around this crowd Sing our alma mater and sing it out loud. Let your voice sing in chorus and reach other nations Beckoning new Jayhawks to spark new collaborations Because you are the mortar that will hold these walls upright. Your future Your dreams are why Jayhawks did fight For the tradition before you Was merely prelude For what will come next now that you’re at KU.


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